Translucid is a comic that focused on just how important the relationship between hero and villain can be and the implications that such a dynamic can have. 6 issues with the final one out today.
(Beware there will be spoilers as I am discussing not just the covers but the relationship between the Horse and Navigator (and how the colors reflect their relationship perfectly), quoting the series and the plot)
What I love about these covers is the duality between hero and villain is always visible - where the hero is blue and the villain is pink/red, except in the very last cover where the colors have switched.
Even when neither hero or villain is present (the 3rd cover) you still have a sense of them, as the spotlight of the knight piece draws back to the very first issue, you also get the sense this is something the hero is seeing. It’s this issue, halfway through the mini, that the Navigator has killed an innocent. He’s supposedly losing his heroism and the spotlight is all on the Horse as he watches his greatest enemy succumb and promptly place himself in jail as a means of helping that enemy.
Now, I’m not an expert on color symbolism, and the only thing I could think of when I saw this match up was the ‘gendered color’ duality of pink vs blue, but I was sure that was not the intent. These are just two very contrasting colors to one another.
So I went to Color Wheel Pro for Color Meaning and here is what they gave me:
Blue is often associated with depth and stability. Symbolizing trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, and heaven. Specifically light blue, the shade that appears to be used in the coloring, is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding and softness. These traits would be common in a hero (rather than an anti-hero) but the hero of this series is anything but stable, one of the main traits associated with the color. He is losing faith rapidly in himself and the Horse attempts to bring him back to his senses, even if it meant dying in the process. The hero quickly reveals he refuses to give him up, that he can’t lose him and that the Horse gives him meaning and purpose. Fitting that the last cover has the Horse as blue then - he was the Hero’s stabilizer, though an unhealthy, drug inducing stabilizer. He is almost like a drug himself to the Navigator, in the sense he “couldn’t quit him, and needed him around” - the Hero having realized he thrives off their dynamic and needs to keep the Horse around.
Speaking of The Horse, let’s look at what red means. Red is the color of fire (cover 5 seems to invoke flames coming from his eyes) and blood (which his spotlight is resting on top of) and is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. It’s emotionally intense. Two of the shades offered for specific meaning are “light red’ and “pink”: “light red” represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love; while “pink” signifies romance, love, and friendship. Love is the common association, and there is evidence of the twisted friendship (frenemies more like it) between the two, especially as the shading for the colors is more pink than just a lighter red. In issue 6 he even claims that he is Navigator’s “real family” that he is the only one who can see his true potential.
We have the Horse trying, in his own way, to help the Navigator. In issue 4 we have this snippet of thought “the villain had originally hoped second rate opponents might offer a bit of fun for the Navigator while he was away. But jealousy is a mysterious creature.”, when one of these “second rates” attempted to kill the Navigator, and failed, he was murdered by the Horse in prison. It’s like a twisted, obsessive love, where he wants the Navigator to find himself, but doesn’t really like the idea of others fighting him. Possessive. He’s possessive of the Navigator as “his” hero. Even in the hero’s final moments he wants it to be all about them, with no “opportunists” invited.
That feeling is what kickstarts the main plot - The Horse gets out of prison and worries his old enemy is failing to live up to their glory days and tries to help him out, by drugging him and experiencing his whole life through twisted, psychedelic images thanks to a life-machine he’s hooked them both into.
Their who dynamic is summed up well with the final speech of the Horse to Navigator:
"We were made for each other, Navigator. By one another. But we stopped thriving together. you grew into my shade, coiled around my trunk like an invasive vine. And you nearly squeezed the life from your host…the greatest tragedy is that you didn’t. Dependency rotted out your roots first.”
"I once believed that a navigator needs a means of transportation. But at some point, the horse knows the way even better than the guide."
"The world is in good hands…for one hero’s end marks the birthdayof another.”
Finding out how the Navigator became who he is, what all he had to go through, the Horse wants to know it all, and by drugging him, he could free the Navigator from his emotional burdens. That’s why the Horse is blue at the end, because he helped him find his stability. Put all the pieces together to see the grander picture, and brought him to his death for final release. That possessiveness flares up once more when he prevents the Navigator from biting his tongue off and killing himself, only to moments later turn off his life machine- he had to be allowed the final victory.
Then the Horse assumes his identity, symbolically removing his head (we never see his face) and taking the Navigator’s mask. Because not only did he stabilize the Navigator as a “final gift” and “one final victory”, even allowing him to kill the fake him within the psychedelic delusions, but also to understand him and replace him, because the Horse can become an actual stable, sane, version of the Navigator like he once was. There was also the symbolic image of the Horse jumping through a stained glass window depicting Jesus, because he is the Navigator’s savior, and will become a better Navigator, and savior, for the people.
This is a brilliant mini series and will be an amazing single graphic novel. I would recommend it so much, especially if you want an amazing take on the hero/villain dynamics so prevalent in the superhero genre (really any genre with a good versus evil theme)